Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Fourth M

Three obvious mistakes that made what should have been an easy, delicious coffee beverage barely drinkable.

1. Pre-ground espresso. This causes all sorts of problems, the release of co2 being one of them (i.e. no crema!)
2. Too light of tamp/not enough volume. Way too fast of a pull means tons of extraction not taking place.
3. Letting the espresso sit attached to the group head before extraction. Burning the grounds does not taste good!

Sadly, it is usually the fourth "m" that causes bad coffee in Louisville.


Darren Jennings said...

Are you referring to M-ichael?

Bolo said...

Mmmm...I don't know if I agree with your last statement. At least, not without several asterisks attached.

Michael Butterworth said...

ha. I actually thought about adding a caveat to appease you John... but deemed it unnecessary.

Is most coffee in Louisville mediocre? (still too generous?) yes.

But a bad barista can ruin even top notch beans.

Bolo said...

I might wager to say that even in Seattle, "most" coffee is mediocre. So yes, I think that is still too generous.

Had an interesting discussion about espresso with Peter yesterday. (He had Kenny pull him a shot at the 'Gos last weekend, and he enjoyed it immensely.) My point to him was that even though that little 1.5 - 2 ounces of liquid was a couple bucks, it's at a price point that is legitimate. HOWEVER. Chew on this: most shops will charge relatively the same price for espresso. Even Billy Wilson's BARISTA in Portland is $2.50 for 'spro...incredibly high quality stuff, and definitely pricier than at other places, but still...not a huge premium if you think about it. That still doesn't take away the fact that just about any "true" espresso, no matter how crappy, is still roughly a dollar an ounce. (Personally, I prefer a more ristretto-style shot, which would yield even less liquid.) That's some pretty pricey liquid, isn't it?

To sum up: If a coffee shop is going to charge someone a dollar an ounce for a beverage, then that thing better be damn good. Knock-my-socks-off, toe-curling, adjective-inspiring good. Some shops fail miserably at this, know they do, and still promote their stuff as being good. Others continually fail out of continued ignorance. The former should be ashamed for ripping people off, while the latter need some education and refinement. Maybe lots of education and refinement.